What CFD Software Giant Could Join the 3DEXPERIENCE?
Shawn Wasserman posted on March 27, 2015 |
Find out which 35-year-old CFD private company could join Dassault’s ubiquitous cloud platform

Can Dassault Systèmes bring CD-adapco to the 3DEXPERIENCE?

Co-Simulation Engine allows STAR-CCM+ and Abaqus to communicate for fluid structure interactions simulations. Picture courtesy of CD-adapco.
Five years ago, a cooperation began between Dassault Systèmes’ Simulia and CD-adapco. The goal was to bring easier connectivity between Simulia’s FEA solver Abaqus and CD-adapco’s CFD software STAR-CCM+/STAR-CD. The team created the Co-Simulation Engine (CSE), which allows data to be passed between the programs as they run simultaneously.

“The solution of complex industry engineering problems requires simulation tools that can cross engineering disciplines…” CD-adapco co-founder and CEO Steven MacDonald said during the 2015 STAR-Global Conference. “From the very beginning, our philosophy was to push the boundaries of our simulations as far away from the area of interest as possible, capturing all the relevant physics, minimizing approximations, and taking account of all the factors that are likely to influence the performance of a product design in its working life.”

However, would MacDonald and his fellow top brass at CD-adapco and Simulia consider a cross discipline tool so industry shaking? Would they bring STAR-CCM+ onto the 3DEXPERIENCE (3DX)
all-encompassing CAE platform? And what would this tighter partnership look like? Let’s explore.

The Elephant in the Room: Both companies have CFD and FEA

FEA Solver integration into STAR-CCM+ is expected in version 10.04 which will release in June 2015. Photo taken from STAR Global Conference 2015.
Come the June release of STAR-CCM+ 10.04, both Simulia/3DEXPERIENCE and CD-adapco will have their own in-house FEA and CFD solvers.

In fact, this FEA solver has got CD-adapco Sr. VP of product management Jean-Claude Ercolanelli quite excited. “The solid mechanics in 10.04 is a big breakthrough,” he said. “We have had mechanics in STAR-CCM+ before but this was based on finite volumes which is incapable of solving some structural problems. To help improve productivity, STAR-CCM+ will choose which of the two structural solver is better suited for your problem automatically. This FEA solver allows us to add other physics to the mix as well including electromagnetics and a viscous flow.”

So now, the following questions come up; how can these new companies partner so closely now that they are competitors and why should they even bother?

“Well, STAR-CCM+ has been in the CFD business for 35 years, you don’t re-create that overnight, and the same holds true for Dassault’s FEA solver Abaqus,” said Alan Mueller, Chief Technical Officer at CD-adapco. “For certain problems, both tools are necessary. There are a lot of problems with structure elasticity, linear behaviour, and fluid solid contact where doing it all in STAR-CCM+ is fine.”

Mueller clarified about the conflict having said, “When I first talked to Bruce Engelmann CTO of Dassault Systemes Simulia, I said there is a big elephant in the room; we are developing FEA and you CFD.  He replied ‘to be a good partner you need to learn each other, the best way is to jump into each other’s work.’”

However, with both systems talking to the other, many users might prefer to always use the best solver for the job – be it CFD of FEA. These customers will want to use these more power CFD and FEA solvers as a default. So why not make that possible on the 3DX if the technology exists?

CAE Trends to Ubiquitous Cloud CAE Software

3DEXPERIENCE’s collaborative platform targets 12 industries and is available on the cloud, private cloud, or on premise. Photo taken at Simulia Community Conference 2014.

There is a trend in the simulation industry to bring all CAE software together into a cloud-based, all-encompassing, and collaborative platform.

This trend can be seen not only in the 3DEXPERIENCE, but also with competitors like Altair and Autodesk.

Ercolanelli explained that CD-adapco was one of the first to offer cloud licensing with Power-on-Demand. It gives users access to multiple cores and sectors through a cloud network. He also mentioned that the newest release of STAR-CCM+ is able to interact with CAD data. This improvement, coupled with STAR-CCM+’s new FEA solver and growing multiphysics, sound like the software is also following the ubiquitous CAE platform trend.

“It’s about multidisciplinary design not just flow,” said Nick Appleyard, VP of the Americas sector at CD-adapco. “The way [the] industry is going, analysts and engineers are expecting more can be done with their software. CD-adapco has made it a point to expand STAR-CCM+ into other physics.”

Mueller agreed, adding, “It is best for our customers to have one tool to do the whole simulation.”

That being said, STAR-CCM+ would certainly have a lot of catching up to do compared to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE. If the partnership between the two companies were to expand to include the 3DX, however, then the companies could cause a stir in the industry.

Dana Holding Corporation’s Ben Kenney has a positive outlook on the collaboration between these two companies “I’m excited about the interactions between FEA & CFD,” said the research engineer. “Currently, we need to get the software to talk to each other and it can be hard to get the map of one to work with the map of the other. Getting all the solid/fluid interactions into one software is beneficial.”

What could STAR-CCM+ on the 3DEXPERIENCE look like?

CAE software on the 3DEXPERIENCE has a similar look, feel and control. Integrating STAR-CCM+ could be a challenge unless the partnership between CD-adapco and Dassault Systemes becomes much stronger. Photo taken at Simulia Community. Conference 2014.
The 3DEXPERIENCE has made all the available tools on the 3DX have the same look and feel. This gives the platform the ability to ensure users will be able to utilize all the tools with an optimized workflow with minimal training. The 3DX also ensures reliable communications when switching between tools.

Matthew Godo, STAR-CCM+ product manager at CD-adapco agrees with this strategy. “In a perfect world, we would have everything run on our own STAR-CCM+ workflow,” he said. “It benefits the end user’s productivity. You won’t worry about input/output files being out of phase for one example.”

But this is something that CD-adapco would also have to play catch-up with the 3DX. Mueller suggested that the work to get all the islands of software “talking together” and working in a single workflow would be a challenge.

However, much of this challenge becomes irrelevant if the Simulia team were to work with CD-adapco, as they have the experience. Together the teams can easily bring CD-adapco to the 3DX thanks to the aforementioned Co-Simulation Engine and the various tools already available to the 3DX platform. This would certainly make for a CAE powerhouse.

Perhaps this is why Mueller suggested that the future of the partnership between Simulia and CD-adapco would be a cross pollination of experience. “We have done a lot to hire people with Abaqus expertise and I would like to see more people trained in both software,” he shared.

To be clear, no one suggested a buyout here, though anything is possible. It would certainly answer the question of which company would handle which bug fix. But the current cooperation seems to work fine with this bug fix question.

A final question remains: If the companies continue to function separately, how would they deal with the confusing IP agreements? It would be surprising if CD-adapco and Dassault Systèmes Simulia weren’t open to the concept of sharing given the financial opportunity this would bring. It would not be the first time that such a sharing of IP was implemented either. And hey, if recent pop-culture news of Marvel/Sony/Spiderman teaches us anything, sharing IP can lead to  real commercial success.

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